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I Forge Iron

Wrought iron sash weights

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I'm doing a renovation on my 1862 farm house and when I took the old windows apart I found a little treasure inside. Instead of cast iron the sash weights are rough forged low grade wrought iron. The grain, hammer marks and welds are clearly visible. The town Historical Society says that there used to be an iron mine and bloomery a mile or so north of here, my bet is that local wrought was cheaper than imported cast. There are cellar holes of old mills on nearly every rapid stretch of river around here so between that and the size and regularity of the hammer marks I'm guessing that the bloomery had a trip hammer.

The material is about 1 1/4" square.

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Thomas- It is possible they were puddling or using one of the other indirect methods to produce wrought. The historical record states simply "iron production", the site where I think the works were located have but a few cellar holes, nothing else in evidence. However, if I had an iron mine in a heavily forested region and the nearest coal seam was who knows how many hundreds of miles away I'd keep using the old process with local charcoal rather than train in coal and cast iron pigs. There is photographic evidence from the very early 20th C. of charcoal makers in this area so someone was still using charcoal for something.

You have probably researched wrought iron production more than I have, do you know if it was common to use charcoal in place of coal with the "newer" methods? My understanding is that indirect methods arose in parallel with the changeover to coal and coke.

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All of the early blast furnaces/finerys were run using charcoal. The ones I toured in OH finally went out of blast around WWI. Charcoal does NOT make it a bloomery.

Smelting with coked coal came in with the 1700's and Abraham Darby so there were over 200 years (more like 300 in places) before coal was used and puddling was even later as I recall so nowhere near parallel the use of coal. (Not to mention the "famed" Swedish Charcoal Iron as the highest grade available even into the 1800's.

I was originally wondering about ACW perturbations as I seem to recall reading that the south used some bloomeries during the war in desperation; then I saw your "Vermont" location...

So probably a charcoal run system due to availability (as was done in Sweden). Have you done any testing on the bars? Low grade WI is favored by folks making knife fittings from it and you might have a great source for folks wanting to lathe chunks to shape over the more common wagon tyre.

Offline till Monday!

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